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On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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September 2016
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Kno Finally Ships

Remember the Kno?  It was an interesting idea that was taken by many to be an impossible or doomed project many months ago.  The basic idea was that a tablet PC optimized for educational needs and being about the size and weight of a standard undergraduate textbook would go over impressively in the same market where the Kindle failed to make an impression in early tests.  Well, as of 12/21 the thing has actually entered the market!

The major selling points seem to be the focus on textbooks and note taking.  Looking through the initial offerings, there seems to be quite the selection of digital textbooks already and supposedly more deals are on the way.  Particularly interesting for many will be the textbook rental option which will allow students to grab their texts for just a semester at a time for a reduced price.  How many people end up needing their Biology 101 text after their first year anyway, right?  Right along with that, the fact that you can write directly on the screen, allowing the potential for easy margin notation or a virtual notepad will address one of the problems with the Kindle‘s classroom usefulness.  Ease of use on what is among the most important study related activities for many will help.

Beyond that, a lot is riding on the as-yet unrealized potential offered by the app market.  Since the whole system is essentially built on the WebKit browser engine, development should be impressively simple and offer a variety of possibilities.  The initial offerings of book reading, web browsing, and note taking apps will fill most basic needs, but it’s always best to see some development after the devices have seen some time in the wild, so to speak.

On the negatives side, we still have a very narrowly purposed device and a comparatively high price point.  There is no usable USB port, so you’re stuck with the on-screen keyboard or a stylus.  It’s a bit on the heavy side as far as something you’re hoping to do any reading is concerned.  Also, I have to emphasize that based on the specs this is definitely a reading and web browsing device rather than a PC replacement.  It has limited hard drive space, unimpressive speed, and no real expandability.  For full tech specs, click here.

Overall, I like the product though.  As the developers emphasize on the sales site, your investment(whether it be $599 for the single screen 16GB unit or $999 for the dual screen 32GB unit) will pay off over the course of a year or two, assuming the student using it is able to get the majority of their textbooks through the Kno’s text store, which is something you’ve got to hope to be able to do for this to make sense in the first place.

It isn’t going to be for everybody.  This isn’t a Kindle for book reading or an iPad for general use tablet applications.  It’s strictly academic.  That said, we can only hope that it sees some success.  It would certainly be great to have access to something like this that would really allow eBooks to make a splash in the textbook market.

What We Know About the Kno

While it’s ridiculously early to be talking much about a product that will, in the best possible case that they’re claiming, not be available until late fall(December has been mentioned), the Kno is an interesting take on the eReader market and might address some of the reasons that the Kindle is having trouble taking off as anything but a library resource at many universities.  While the Kindle is far more pleasant than any LCD for leisure reading, eye strain is usually a lesser concern for a student hitting the books.

Here’s what we know so far:

  • It’s HUGE.  Two linked 14″LCD touchscreens meant to accommodate a full sized textbook with note-taking capability and integrated annotation functions for textbooks
  • It’s expensive.  They’ve not released much information about pricing yet, but most sources and interviews about the device tend to focus on the range of $1,000
  • WiFi enabled.  Enough said.  It’s for students and if you can find a college student without regular internet access these days, you’re likely going to a lot of trouble for it. 3G would be overkill
  • Deals with McGraw Hill, Pearson, Wiley and others already in place for textbook distribution
  • SDK entering Beta this year.  More options are always better and it’s a safe bet that the application selection on this one will be essential

That’s about it.  The size and weight will be off-putting for a lot of people.  This is clearly not a leisure device for most.  For students already used to carrying around multiple textbooks each the same size as and nearly the same weight as these devices, however, it makes a lot of sense.  The ability to display textbooks with natural pagination, little to no scrolling, and annotation by the student has the potential to make the Kno a must-have for students.  Overall, the news is cautiously optimistic.

Yes, this is simply the new incarnation of the Kakai device we reported on a while back.  We’ve gotten more details and they’ve gotten more interesting since then.  A second glance was merited.